Serna, Francisco lead chase in Digos

VINCE SERNA and Sanschena Francisco set out for explosive starts to fuel their respective title drive in the premier division of the Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala (PPS-PEPP) national juniors tennis championships which got going Friday at the Digos City Tennis Club in Davao del Sur.

The five-day Group 2 tournament, dubbed the PPS-PEPP Rep. John Tracy Cagas national age-grouper, marked the resumption of the junior circuit after giving way to the Open championship in Davao del Norte last week with fourth-ranked Cebuano Joshua Kinaadman foiling No. 3 Eric Jed Olivarez for the championship.

This week’s battle for top honors in eight age-group categories is also tipped to be a tossup among the big guns and the lesser lights with Ben Flores, Pete Cua, Zhul Pantaran and Kristofer Espinoza all primed to crowd Serna from Butuan in the boys’ 18-under side.

Francisco from Sultan Kudarat, on the other hand, braces for a tough challenge from Chelsea Bernaldez, Juliana Carvajal and Angel Vosotros, among others, in the girls’ centerpiece division of the tournament presented by Dunlop and put up by Palawan Pawnshop President and CEO Bobby Castro.

For details, contact event organizer and Sports Program Development director Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.

Flores and Cua are also vying in the 16-U play headlined by top seed Josh Lim and No. 2 Randy Pausanos with Francisco, Bernaldez and Vosotros also seeing action in girls’ 16-U which lured a huge 32-entry draw top-billed by Dhea Cua and beefed up by Kyle Sonza, Janna Mamac and Faith Lazaro.

Lim also gains the top ranking in boys’ 14-U class but expects a stiff challenge from Johnel Maldo, Iñigo Barrios and Jason Battad with Cua also bannering the girls’ division with Jannah Mamac, Lazaro and Jhuane Flores in the tournament hosted by Gov. Cagas and backed by ProtekTODO, PalawanPay, the Unified Tennis Philippines and Universal Tennis Rating.